Monday, September 20, 2010

My Mother Said... Anonymous

My mother said, I never should
Play with the Gypsies in the wood;
If I did, she would say,
Naughty little girl to disobey.
Your hair shan't curl,
Your shoes shan't shine,
You gypsy girl, you shan't be mine.
And my father said if I did,
he'd rap my head with the teapot lid.

The wood was dark, the grass was green,
In came Sally with a tambourine.
I went to sea - no ship to get across,
I paid ten shillings for a blind white horse,
I up on his back,
and was off in a crack -
Sally, tell my mother I shall never come back.

Another old favourite.  This poem has the allure of the forbidden.  It moves and dances with its own freedom, as it develops from repression to mystery and new beginnings.

Growing up in New Zealand the idea of Gypsies seemed as exotic and enticing as fairies and I have to admit I was surprised to find that this poem wasn't so easy to find as I thought.  There was nothing in particular dedicated to it, just some blogs with versions that didn't seem quite right.  This mash-up seems to be the closest to my rememberings although I'm sure other people will have their own favourite versions.

A..J. Ponder - Amazon author page


  1. This poem was quoted at me as a child too. And I think I was a very naughty little girl!

  2. I don't think I heard this one as a child, but it reminds me of two others, both probably of more recent origin, that I used to hear a lot as a child - one was "The Gypsy Rover", and the other, believe it or not, the theme tune to the 1960s-era Robin Hood series...

    "Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen..."

    We didn't get a TV till I was ten, and Robin Hood was my favourite viewing once we did. Nowadays, I expect it would be a reality show: "Sherwood Forest's Next Top Outlaw"!

  3. Cheers Kathleen and Tim. Your comments took me back down memory lane.
    And thanks so much Tim for reminding me of an old favourite.

  4. What a fun poem--including the father's threat to rap her head with the teapot lid; it also puts me in mind of another Anon poem, the Tom O' Bedlam song: "With a host of furious fancies whereof I am commander..." etc and also the "Raggle Taggle Gypsies Oh"

  5. Awesome, Helen. How could I have forgotten the raggle taggle gypsies? and Tom O'Bedlam, wow, what an amazing poem/song.

  6. The first paragraph was a "skipping song" we pre-teens of the 1950s sang while one would skip a long rope turned by a friend on each end. If you didn't get caught in the rope, you jumped out and made way for the next skipper.

    1. Very cool. We used the first verse for a clapping game, back in the day...

  7. This poem has the allure of the forbidden. It moves and dances with its own freedom, as it develops from repression to mystery and new beginnings. Anonymous News